Christians should respect gender distinctions in clothing by wearing clothes that affirm their male or female identities. This principle is plainly taught in the law found in Deuteronomy 22:5, which prohibits wearing the clothes of the opposite sex. We have found that the Bible attaches great importance to preserving gender distinctions in dress as well as in functional roles, because these are fundamental to our understanding of who we are and what role God wants us to fulfill.
Clothes define our identity and help us develop a new identity. Not only is it true that we are what we wear, but also that we become what we wear. A woman who wants to function as a man will most likely dress like a man. Similarly a man who wants to be treated as a woman will most likely wear feminine items like jewelry, perfume, and ornate clothing. This means that when we blur the gender distinctions by wearing genderless clothing, we gradually lose our male or female identity and experience an identity crisis and confusion of roles.
We have found that role confusion is present today in the home, in the workplace, and in the church, making it increasingly difficult to tell where the role of a man ends and that of a woman begins. Christians must recognize today’s attempts to abolish male and female distinctions, especially through the popularity of genderless clothing, as Satan’s effort to destroy the order and beauty of God’s creation.
The Bible does not tell us what style of clothing men and women should wear, because it recognizes that style is dictated by climate and culture. The Bible does teach us to respect the gender distinction in clothing as it is known within our own culture. This means that as Christians we need to ask ourselves when buying clothes: Does this article of clothing affirm my gender identity, or does it make me look as though I belong to the opposite sex? Whenever you feel that a certain type of clothing does not belong to your gender, follow your conscience: Don’t buy it, even if it is fashionable.
At a time when modern fashion seems bent on abolishing gender distinctions in clothing, it is not always easy for Christians to find clothes that affirm their gender identity. But it has never been easy to live by Biblical principles. Yet this is our Christian calling, not to conform to the perverted values and styles of our society, but to be a transforming influence in this world through the enabling power of God.
Conclusion. Clothes do not make a Christian, but Christians reveal their identity through their clothes and appearance. The Bible does not prescribe a standardized dress for Christian men and women to wear, but it calls us to follow the simplicity and unpretentiousness of Jesus’ lifestyle, even in our clothes and appearance.
To follow Jesus in our dress and adornment means to stand apart from the crowd by not painting up, jeweling up, and dolling up our bodies as do the rest. This takes courage. Courage not to conform to the seductive dictates of fashion, but to be transformed by the sensible directives of the Word of God (Rom 12:2). Courage to distinguish between the capricious mode that changes and the sensible style that remains. Courage to reveal the loveliness of Christ’s character, not by the external decoration of our bodies “with gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Tim 2:9, NEB), but by the internal beautification of our souls with the graces of the heart, the gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in God’s sight (1 Pet 3:4). Courage to dress, not to glorify ourselves by wearing glittering jewelry and eye-catching clothes, but to glorify God by dressing modestly, decently, and soberly.
Our outward appearance is a constant silent witness of our Christian identity. May it always tell the world that we live to glorify God and not ourselves.